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9 Best Client Management Systems for Small-sized Agencies

Apr 04, 2022
  • 8 min read
  • Faith

    Poor client management is every agency's nightmare. It leads to scope creep, misaligned expectations, and lots of time and resources wasted. Every hour spent on tasks outside the project scope is literally eroding your profit, slowing down your agency's growth.

    To improve client management, you need a client management system — a central place where you can manage workflows and interactions with your clients from a project’s beginning to end. The right client management system for a small-sized agency is easy to use and has the core features needed for streamlining your agency’s internal and external workflows. Based on these factors, we’ve highlighted nine different client management systems plus their specific use cases for small-sized agencies.

    1. Portal streamlines client management for productized services agencies


    Portal eliminates the need for multiple client management tools by providing a central hub for managing projects, collaborating with clients, and automating time-consuming routine tasks like invoicing, file sharing, and sending receipts.

    After closing a new client, you can add them to your client collaboration portal and share your contract, invoice, and onboarding documents right in the application. Likewise, your client can complete the necessary documentation and make the required payment without leaving the client management system.

    When the actual project kicks off, the client can track its progress via embedded Asana and ClickUp Kanban boards for real-time updates, limiting the number of work hours that your team spends on providing manual day-to-day project information. This improves collaboration, which strengthens your client-agency relationship.

    If your clients have any questions or require clarification, they can send a message via the in-app chat or schedule a meeting using Portal’s Calendly extension.

    Core features

    1. In-app messenger
    2. File manager
    3. Form builder
    4. E-signature application
    5. Extensions for third-party apps, including Asana, Databox, Calendly, etc.

    Pricing: Starts from $59 per month (per internal user), and there’s a free two-week trial

    2. simplifies workflow management connects all the moving parts of your business operations — from teams and tools to processes — to a central workspace.

    Once you set up your agency’s workspace, you can seamlessly integrate all the tools used for running your agency, including Slack, Zoom, Google Drive, Trello, and Salesforce, for easy access. After this, you can add new projects to your workspace using the fully customizable templates and assign project sub-tasks to your team members automatically.

    In addition, has user-friendly project dashboards and Gantt charts that enable you to track the status of different tasks and monitor the overall project execution in real time.

    Core features

    1. Project templates
    2. Team collaboration features like in-app messengers, file sharing, and activity logs
    3. Dashboards for reporting
    4. Extensions for third-party integrations
    5. Task automation

    Pricing: The team plan starts at $18 per month (billed annually)

    3. HoneyBook helps you book clients faster


    HoneyBook provides all the tools you need to close more leads and convert them into paying customers for your business, including proposal templates and invoicing software. You can complete your entire sales cycle right in the software — from sending proposals and contracts to receiving payments.

    After adding a new lead or prospect to the CRM, you can customize the HoneyBook proposal and brochure templates and share them with your prospective clients, so they will have a better idea of your expertise, services, and the results you’ve helped other clients achieve. If the prospect is ready to work with you, you can immediately send your contract and invoice for payment without leaving your client management system. Once payment is made, your business financial records will be updated automatically.

    HoneyBook also allows you to add clients to a personal project portal where they will receive automatic updates regarding the project’s progress — including task statuses and timelines. This improves collaboration and project management.

    Core features

    1. Contact and lead management
    2. Third-party integrations (QuickBooks)
    3. Automatic payment reminders
    4. File management
    5. Templates
    6. In-app scheduling tool

    Pricing: Starts at $39 per month or $390 per annum

    Related reads: HoneyBook vs Dubsado: The Ultimate Showdown

    4. Service Provider Pro automates your sales and onboarding processes


    Service Provider Pro (SPP) streamlines your sales funnel so you can organize and scale your agency’s productized services efficiently.

    SPP automates your agency’s sales process. For example, your clients can directly purchase your service packages or subscription plans at any time using the one-click checkout button embedded in your website. After completing payment, they’ll fill out an intake form as part of the onboarding process. The information in the intake form is used to automatically generate a profile for the client in your SPP-powered customer portal.

    When clients log into the customer-facing part of your portal, they’ll access the full history of their orders, reports, and payments. And they can also modify the information on their profiles, including adding a new payment method or updating their billing address.

    Core features

    1. In-app client messenger
    2. Google Analytics integration
    3. Built-in referral system
    4. Billing and order management
    5. Helpdesk tool

    Pricing: Starts from $99 per month

    5. Wrike helps agencies achieve efficient team collaboration


    Wrike simplifies task management, making it easier for your team to work together to execute projects successfully.

    Wrike has several templates, view options, and integrations that you can use to customize your team’s workspace as you deem fit. For example, you can view tasks on a Kanban board, calendar, or Gantt chart, depending on your preferences. You can also use the multiple views feature to track project updates across your entire team.

    Wrike allows you to automate your agency’s approval processes, eliminating the back and forth, and improves team productivity. Team members can request a review of their project deliverables right in the collaboration workspace, and you can provide feedback via live editing, so everyone stays in the loop. You can also mention stakeholders in these documents directly and assign sub-tasks to them.

    Core features

    1. Project templates and forms
    2. Customized dashboards
    3. File sharing
    4. Project management Kanban boards and Gantt charts
    5. Scheduling and time tracking
    6. Live editing

    Pricing: Wrike has a free plan suitable for a small team (with1–5 persons)

    6. Capsule helps agencies to maintain a streamlined client management system

    Capsule CRM

    Capsule simplifies contact management by providing a central workspace for tracking sales opportunities. You can import new contact information into this workspace from Outlook, VCard, and Google Sheets. You can also integrate third-party apps like Zapier and use this tool to connect your CRM to your phone answering services — allowing you to see the entire history of your customer interactions, including email, calls, files, and notes, in one place.

    It also has a sales pipeline dashboard that enables you to track your monthly sales performance and identify new opportunities.

    Core features

    1. Sales pipeline dashboard
    2. Calendar and task management tools
    3. Integrations to Outlook, Mailchimp, Google Workspace, etc.
    4. Sales analytics and reporting
    5. Two-factor verification

    Pricing: Starts at $18 per user (per month)

    7. Productive makes profit tracking seamless


    Productive allows you to manage each of your projects like separate entities — improving budget forecasting and resource planning. When you’re setting up a new project to Productive’s client portal, you can add the budget and the total number of billable hours — whether you’re billing by the hour, adopting a fixed rate, or retainer pricing.

    As the project progresses, Productive tracks billable and non-billable time against services,  so you’re sure that you’re not overspending or underspending your budget. In addition, you’ll get an automatic warning when you’re at risk of overrunning your budget. With this, you’d know how profitable your project is from day one and plan to minimize losses on time.

    In addition to profit tracking, Productive allows you to schedule tasks in different views, including a calendar view, board view, and Kanban view. You can add clients to their projects so they can monitor the project’s progress directly, and you don’t have to spend time on routine updates.

    Core features

    1. Time tracker
    2. Insights library
    3. Budget planner
    4. Invoice automation
    5. Task manager

    Pricing: Starts at $15 a month for 1 user

    8. Hive makes team collaboration better


    In Hive, you can create subtasks within each task to help you stay on top of ongoing tasks and deadlines. You can add updates as comments to your task to make it easier for your team leads to follow up asynchronously. There’s also the option of switching between multiple project-tracking layouts, including Kanban boards and calendar view, to make it easier to view project progress.

    Hive provides project templates to simplify your workflows and improve efficiency. It also reduces back and forth with clients, allowing you to achieve one-time client approvals.

    Core features

    1. In-app messenger for team collaboration
    2. In-app email feature
    3. Third-party app integrations (Google Drive, Teams, Slack, Salesforce)
    4. Time tracker
    5. Recycle bin

    Pricing: Free, and there’s also a $16 per month plan

    9. Keep empowers your business with sales and marketing automation


    Keap helps you to automate routine tasks like lead capture and lead nurturing, so you can focus on your core business operations. Prospects who wish to learn more about your services can fill out the simple lead capture form on your website, landing pages, or social media platform. Once their contact information is registered in your client management system, Keap automatically sends follow-up emails to nurture their interest in your services and convert them into paying customers.

    You can also set up marketing automation for existing customers to drive repeat business for your agency. For example, you can send promotional emails regarding discounts and send automatic invoice reminders or referral requests.

    Core features

    1. Text and email marketing
    2. Automatic lead capture
    3. Contact management
    4. Lead nurturing
    5. Marketing analytics and reporting

    Pricing: Starts at $79 per month with a free two-week trial

    How to choose the best client management system for your agency

    The right client management system is the key to building a high-performing agency. It will help you take care of bottlenecks that can reduce your agency’s performance and make it harder for you to scale your productized services. High performance is crucial for small agencies that need to get the maximum benefits from their business spend.

    The most important things to consider when choosing a client management system are your business goals and needs. For example, if you want to better utilize your budget and improve profitability, then investing in a client management software like Productive might be a good idea. On the other hand, software like HoneyBook and Capsule can help smooth your sales process so you can close clients faster.

    If boosting client collaboration is your priority — and it should be because great collaboration improves client retention — then Portal is the best client management system for your agency. Portal helps you to streamline your agency’s processes and deliver a unified client experience to your customers — all in one place. And you can create a client portal in just five minutes.

    See how Portal can improve your agency’s client experience here.

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